PHL sees WTO reach agreement on SSM and public food stocks in 2023
Manila is optimistic that members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) will reach a consensual agreement on key agricultural issues, such as public stockholding and the special safeguard mechanism (SSM), by next year.
Agriculture Undersecretary Fermin D. Adriano said one of the country’s achievements at the recently concluded 12th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC12) was the inclusion of a permanent solution for public stockholding for food security purposes (PSH) and building better SSM in discussions. leading to MC13.
Adriano, who was co-head of the country’s delegation to MC12, noted that trade ministers had agreed in principle that critical issues in the agricultural negotiations would be part of the work program for the next MC13 in December this year. next.
The MC is the WTO’s highest decision-making body, where trade ministers from the 164 member countries meet every two years to negotiate on issues affecting global trade at the multilateral level.
MC 12, held in Geneva, Switzerland, concluded on June 17 with the “unprecedented” adoption of a package containing 10 decisions and declarations ranging from the reduction of harmful fisheries subsidies the extension of the moratorium on customs duties on electronic commerce.
“The main achievement has really been asking the question of how do you reduce domestic support subsidies, how do you strengthen the SSM, and then how do you build your public food stock,” Adriano told reporters recently.
“In other words, it is now accepted that these are important and we will put them on the agenda of this Ministerial Conference, which means that there will be a lot of discussions along the way before the meeting takes place. the 13th Ministerial Conference”.
Adriano said the Covid-19 pandemic has shown other countries the importance of having PSH and SSM amid export bans and supply chain disruptions.
“I think it’s recognized that because of this crisis, interdependence is really important. And now, especially with the Russian-Ukrainian war, it clearly shows that interdependence is there,” he said. he declares.
The Philippine delegation visited Geneva two weeks ago and took a strong stance on the need to forge an agreement that would reduce domestic support that “distorts” trade and food production as well as a permanent solution on PSH and the development of an “effective” SSM (Related article: https://businessmirror.com.ph/2022/06/13/manila-seeks-wto-deal-on-ssm-fisheries/).
However, MC12 ended without an adopted statement or decision on agriculture. The 164 WTO members failed to reach consensus on a draft ministerial decision on agricultural negotiations.
The draft ministerial decision, however, stated that PSH would continue after MC12 with the aim of “agreeing and adopting” a permanent solution by MC13. Likewise, negotiations on the SSM will continue with the ultimate objective of “making recommendations to ministers at CM13”.
WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has pointed out that a statement or decision on agriculture negotiations was not taken at MC12 due to ‘sharp’ differences between member countries .
However, Okonjo-Iweala noted that this does not mean that the agriculture negotiations have been completely abandoned due to the lack of an agreed work program or decision.
Okonjo-Iweala pointed out that Article 20 of the Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) reflects the ongoing work at the WTO regarding global agricultural trade reform.
“Rather than having a debate in which we will not agree, we have decided to leave this for the time being. This document (Article 20 of the AoA) captures the pillars on which we intend to work,” she said.
“It’s always a good document to follow. And I think after MC-12 we will come back and move forward based on this document. Agriculture will by no means be left behind,” she added.
The BusinessMirror reported earlier that the country’s agricultural sector stands to benefit from the multitude of multilateral agreements approved by the last WTO MC12 which involved reducing harmful fisheries subsidies and refraining from imposing restrictions. export of food products.
The package includes statements on the multilateral body’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic and another on the food insecurity emergency. A ministerial decision on the exemption of food purchases by the World Food Program from export restrictions was adopted. (Related article: https://businessmirror.com.ph/2022/06/17/phl-agri-seen-to-gain-from-wto-deals-on-harmful-subsidies-food-export-curbs/)